1. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    Size for a Kingdom / other names?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Jupie, May 1, 2017.

    Hello all,

    There is very little world-building in my current novel which may be a problem, though it's mainly because I don't wish to get too bogged down with detail and more interested in the storytelling.

    That said, I need more clarification with describing the different kingdoms as it is a story about princes. The key dynamic here is that there are other Kings in other lands and so they all share this fictional world that I've created. However, I'm aware that a kingdom is very large, perhaps even more so than a country, and as people can travel between kingdoms in a week or more the word 'kingdom' may just be too big. So I thought I'd pick your brains and ask for your knowledge on this as I am very new to all of this.

    I suppose 'country' could work, it's not uncommon that there are various kings across a known world. But I was wondering if there are better terms which describe a fairly large stretch of land containing cities and rural areas but not so big that there can't be other places not ruled directly by the King. Sorry if I'm not explaining myself better, but any background on this would be very helpful.

    It is a fictional world but basically very similar to our own. That's mainly why the world-building is less important. It's supposed to be familiar but different as I'm not trying to write a historical novel or describe real places.

    PS: I have googled this and there is some information but it's much better to have a discussion and see what knowledge people have as you guys are often quite well informed.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Where'd you get the idea that kingdoms are larger than countries? The size doesn't make a kingdom a kingdom, a kingdom is simply a country that's ruled by a king. The word country is used as both a term to define different nations and to describe land (such as "this is good country"). Is that week-long journey to cross these kingdoms a week of driving a car or a horse? If by car, then they might already be larger than you want. If by horse, then they might not be as large as you want.

    A person can cross the US in roughly 48 hours in a car, not counting stops.
    Before cars, it took about 60-80 days to cross the US on a horse.

    ETA: Kingdom should work just fine for your story. There's no rule on how large or small they have to be ;)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
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  3. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    The Kingdom of England (as ruled by, among others, Henry VIII in the 15th century) was comprised of the Kingdoms of Mercia (as ruled by Offa in the 6th century), Wessex, Kent, Deira, Magonsaete, Bernicia, Lindsey, Middle Anglia, East Anglia, Sussex, Essex, Dumnonia, Gwynedd, Dyfed, Powys, Elmet and part of Rheged...a kingdom can be as big as you want it to be.

    Denmark is a kingdom with a population of close to 6 million. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (to give the full title) has a population of over 10 times that.

    In mediaeval times, populations were much lower; the Great Heathen Army that ravaged England in the 9th century is estimated at numbering fewer than 5,000 men. And yet they roamed unchecked for 14 years before Alfred the Great managed to get enough men together to defeat them...nowadays they'd be outnumbered by the fans at most of the football league grounds any Saturday.

    On the subject of journey times pre-technology..."The Royal Road was an ancient highway reorganized and rebuilt by the Persian king Darius the Great (Darius I) of the first (Achaemenid) Persian Empire in the 5th century BCE. Darius built the road to facilitate rapid communication throughout his very large empire from Susa to Sardis. Mounted couriers of the Angarium could travel 1677 miles (2699 km) in seven days; the journey from Susa to Sardis took ninety days on foot."
     
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  4. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    As said above, the only thing defines what is and is not a kingdom, is that one is ruled by a king. However, it is also worth noting that there have also been duchies, principalities, commonwealths and city states as independent states. Consider what titles the rulers might have instead of the size.
     
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  5. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    That would have been some very hard riding requiring the rider to change horses every so many miles, probably around 10 since that kind of riding is similar to the Pone Express of America. I think the OP was speaking of a more casual but purposed ride with only one horse. Nonetheless, that's interesting! I wouldn't mind looking it up a bit and learning some more.
     
  6. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Absolutely. These were Imperial couriers, with important government business to convey.
     
  7. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Cool!
     
  8. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    All of this is really helpful and confirms my vague understanding of what a kingdom means, though I must admit I always suspected them to be very large, which is why I thought they might cover even more than a country. Glad you put me right there, Elven Candy. It looks like I could get away with calling them kingdoms, given that they all take up the known world. Also that's really interesting information about travel, Shadowfax, I didn't realise they could go at that speed. It may not be unreasonable then for one kingdom to travel to another on horseback within one or two weeks, with the size being subjective. I wish to imply that the King has a lot of influence but that said it wouldn't really need to be any bigger than the size of England, and we all know that to be quite small.

    I've reached a point in the story where there's a funeral pyre and many people have travelled from other kingdoms to see it, so I've said in the story that it takes a number of weeks to hold the event so that other important people can arrive. If we assume this is being held in a place where a variety of kingdoms can get to then a couple of weeks should be realistic enough I hope!

    Many thanks for sharing.
     
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  9. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    As per my original post, a Kingdom the size of England was originally comprised of several; and travel in those days would have been a lot harder; if you're having a funeral with guests from many other kingdoms...not really going to happen;
    1/ without refrigeration, the body's going to start to smell a bit within two weeks;

    How Long Does It Take for Body to Decompose?


    Timeline What Happens
    24-72 hours after death Internal organs begin to decompose.
    3-5 days after death Body starts bloating. Blood-containing foam begins leaking from mouth and nose.
    8-10 days after death Massive decomposition of organs in abdomen accumulate massive gas; body turns from green to red because of blood decomposition.

    2/ you don't get the same "world diplomats club" you get nowadays - neighbouring kingdoms were frequently in open rivalry, viz the long-standing disputes between Scotland and "the auld enemy" - England.
    3/ even where the kingdoms are not hostile (hardly ever actually friendly!) travel could still be hazardous (Tostig, brother of King Harold - he of Hastings fame - was attacked and robbed during his return from a visit to the Pope).

    My comment about the Royal Road was more about the 90 days to travel the distance by foot... @Elven Candy comments about hard riding, etc., and she's right - there were 111 posting stations (about one every 15 miles) where the rider could obtain refreshments and a fresh horse; and these were couriers for an empire that rivalled the Roman Empire for size, but 5 centuries earlier.
     
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  10. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    The thing that defines the size of a kingdom, or any (naturally formed) state for that matter, is more often than not geography. There's a reason so many of the borders in Europe and Asia are not straight lines, mostly due to them being defined by the placements of rivers and mountains, both being good for defence, and for serving as a natural marker.
     
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  11. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    Thank you Shadowfax for clearing that up, I've changed that part of the story now as not to include the other guests, except those within just a day's travel and still part of the same kingdom. Instead I'll just settle for them sending their regards -- it only involved taking out 150 words or so, and doesn't change the narrative at all really. Still, I'm glad I checked with you. I know bodies decompose quickly, but didn't realise just how quick...and of course back then they wouldn't be able to preserve the body.

    Interesting point about the state of diplomacy back then. It's something which I will go into later on in the novel -- they're already quite friendly with one other kingdom, having fought the same war together. There are two parts of the world divided into 'East and 'West' so the West have a common cause but they are still very divided and uneasy in their alliances. This conflict will show more later on but there is a level of respect among them all which keeps them reluctant to wage war.

    Halisme that's a good point and I'll have to take the geography into account. I suppose it's that physical separation that makes people so culturally different, as otherwise where do we mark the changes or study why one group of people are so different to another? Course you'd get that in the same country too but those spaces between them must also affect the mentality and the way they see their identity.
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Just to add to what everybody else has said, if you're talking about a funeral and people attending it, you will need to be able to get the news about the death to the relevant people and give them enough time to prepare to travel to the funeral. Unless you have some kind of communication device like a telephone or telegraph in your kingdom, somebody will need to take the news of the death to the other kingdoms around—on foot, horseback (or some other animal-based travel) or by sea. So that time will need to be figured in as well.

    As @Shadowfax said, though, there can be very small kingdoms. England used to be made up of lots of small kingdoms. Anybody who reads anything based on the King Arthur myth is probably aware of this. I suspect (don't know, but suspect) that in most cases, large kingdoms didn't exist without the means to travel them easily and keep them together. So the farther back you go in real history, the smaller the kingdoms would be.

    Some of them, as Shadowfax pointed out, would be organised so that all the small kingdoms (each with its own king) would be loosely confederated under one main king who was chosen by the others in some way. (Ard Righ, or the High King, was the title of the King of all Ireland, but this didn't do away with the smaller kingdoms over which he 'ruled.')
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
  13. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    1/ I didn't actually say that the small kingdoms were confederated...those I listed were independent kingdoms; and then along came Alfred the Great (I'm guessing here; but there must have been someone) and conquered his neighbours and made them subordinate to him. By the time of Edward the Confessor, in the middle of the 11th century, all the former kingdoms were governed by earls; by the time of Edward's death, most of those were sons of Godwin of Wessex, one of whom went on to become Harold of Hastings.

    Also, in the middle of the 11th century Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, from his base as King of Powys, expanded to conquer the other 5 kingdoms of Wales.

    2/ Ard Righ was also the title of the King of the Scots (Nigel Tranter is at pains to point out the he is the king of the Scots, i.e., the people, rather than king over the land).

    This notion of a high king ruling over his lesser kings is perpetuated in the English system, where the king rules with a council of his peers - or equals.
     
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  14. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Here's a link that might be helpful, and a screen shot from that link. It concerns post-Roman Britain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-Roman_Britain

    kingdoms.png
     
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  15. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    Thank you Jannert that's a big help and helps me to visualise a real-life example of the way kingdoms were spread out. It looks like I can get away with having a number of kingdoms in my novel and that that term won't be too misleading. The nature of kings is important in this novel especially as it explores the potential of a not so distant future without kings...and how this world might then look.
     
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  16. Ulquiorra9000

    Ulquiorra9000 Member

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    I often name my kingdoms, countries, or space empires after their nature, as well as their founding person or location. Names like "empire", "federation", "confederation", "republic", and even "ascendancy." A while back I wrote a steampunk fantasy with magic, and the government was called the Talwydd Ascendancy, which replaced the Talwydd Republic. This was because the magic users, in their selfish lust for power and dominance, overthrew the benign republic and formed their own nation on top of it, where they ruled as first-class citizens and utterly dominate the non-magical masses. So, it was the "Ascendancy"... the mages suddenly rose up and took everything, and mages see themselves as ascending over the limits of mundane people.
     
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